Though still a long shot, flying cars are looking a lot more likely today than they did in 2016, when Uber first announced its plan to build an air taxi business in the coming decade. Since then, it’s signed up two urban regions–Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles–to start pilot testing in 2020 and commercial service by 2023. L.A. is also hosting the second annual Uber Elevate Summit, May 8-9, where the company’s partners, from aircraft manufacturers like Boeing to government agencies like NASA, show off their progress in making the dream a reality.
Last year’s conference, held in Dallas, was all about building a coalition. This year is all about showing concrete results: with mock-ups of both the craft and vertiports (mini airports on places like rooftops). The partners will also address the less sexy but critical, technical, and bureaucratic issues. There will be discussions and likely more news on extending battery life (toward the goal of 60-mile flights and five-minute recharges). And Uber will have to show that it can, together with NASA, build a new, largely automated air traffic control system that can someday handle tens of thousands of flights per day–in each city where it operates.
But you don’t need to go to L.A. to catch the action. Uber will live-stream the conference, beginning around 9 a.m, Pacific Time, which you can view right from this page.